If you’ve never made a will before, the process can be daunting. This month, Chaanah outlines what to expect.
I’m about to make a will for the first time. What should I consider?
Before seeing a solicitor to talk about making a will, you should think about what you have in your estate and how you want it to be shared between beneficiaries (who is to receive what).
You also need to consider who you trust to carry out your instructions (an executor), who would look after any children and what would happen if your preferred beneficiaries die before you.
A will is the perfect place to include any other wishes you may have. For most of us, this is simply whether you want to be buried or cremated, but if you fancy being fired into space feel free to say so!
Making a will without legal assistance could lead to mistakes or a lack of clarity that invalidates your intentions. If you want to leave your possessions to a number of beneficiaries and/or your finances are complicated, it is even more important to seek professional advice.
The process is not as expensive as people think and for a modest initial outlay, you can avoid causing heartache and expense for the loved ones you leave behind.
I’ve been told I need to appoint someone to act as an executor in my will. Who should I choose and what will they have to do?
The people legally allowed to deal with your estate, after your death, are generally referred to as the executors, who are appointed under the terms of your will.
When choosing an executor, you should think carefully – it can be a professional, rather than family or friend if you prefer. The role carries legal obligations and the person will be accountable for everything they do or fail to do.
There are also considerable tax and administrative responsibilities to being an executor, so if your affairs are complicated, don’t pick someone who is already time poor. HMRC can impose penalties if procedures are not followed.
Your executors may be required to register the death, arrange the funeral and apply for probate, as well as valuing and distributing the estate, which can be tricky. Each step has its own challenges.
To protect themselves, executors should ensure they make full enquiries into all assets within the estate, no matter how small. This can involve carrying out searches with relevant institutions or placing legal notices in appropriate newspapers and other publications.
Fortunately, specialist solicitors, like me, handle these issues every day and we are happy to provide a helping hand.